Cincinnati Reds: Top 10 Prospects Chat With J.J. Cooper

Cincinnati Reds: Chat




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2008.

 Q:  steve from chatsworth, ca asks:
how is it that chris valaika is not in top 10 but is the starting ss in 2011? and isnt he playing 2b now in hawaii?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by and chatting on this day before Thanksgiving. Welcome to the bizarro world that is our 2011 lineups. We have to assume that current big leaguers will remain on the team (whether they will leave in free agency or not). Using those rules there is no way Valaika will be the Reds 2B ahead of Brandon Phillips, but the Reds don't have a clear SS for 2011. I don't think that Valaika will ever be a big league SS, but he fit best for the 2011 lineup.

 Q:  Jeff Sullivan from Belchertown MA asks:
Is Jay Bruce the top prospect in all of baseball? How close is Bailey to being the top pitching prospect in baseball?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I would bet when we roll out next year's Top 100 Prospects Bruce will be No. 1, and I'd bet Bailey will be in the top 10, which still puts him among the best pitching prospects out there. There aren't many guys around who could end up as a big league No. 1 starter.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Was Brandon Waring's debut a fluke, or is he that good? How do his tools grade out?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: It's not a fluke, he has outstanding raw power and plenty of present power, as his 27 home runs at Wofford this year showed. Waring hit 47 home runs in 2007 between college and pro ball—it's not a fluke. He swings really hard, and he has some holes in his swing, but if he can tighten up some of those holes, he has a chance to be a productive slugger.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
The Reds essentially traded Zach Ward for Matt Maloney. Did they come out ahead?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'd say so. Maloney won't be an ace or anything, but he's not far away from being a productive big league fifth starter or a long reliever. Ward is further away without a much bigger upside, and Maloney has the advantage of being a lefty.

 Q:  Jeff Sullivan from Belchertown MA asks:
In your opinion, where will the Reds system rank? It seems better than most systems because it has so many players with such high ceilings.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: When I first did the Reds list in 2005, they ranked as the second to worst farm system in our talent rankings, and if you look at their farm system, they deserved the scorn. But the system has gotten much better since then, as they gotten away from the disastrous drafts of 2001-2003. Every draft from 2004 on has been productive, which explains why I would expect to see the Reds rank in the Top 10 when next year's talent rankings come out. The system is much improved, with four high ceiling guys at the front and much more depth throughout the system.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Does Tyler Pelland have any potential in the bullpen?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: That's the Reds hope. It seems pretty clear at this point that he won't be a starter, but the Reds hope that a move to the pen will allow him to junk his changeup, become more of a two-pitch guy with a potentially plus fastball for a lefty. His shaky command will also not be as much of a factor coming out of the pen.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
What exactly happened with Milton Loo? Will he be returning to the Reds in the near future?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Loo decided he wanted to go home to Hawaii so he retired from baseball. The Reds still control his rights if he decided to come back, but that doesn't look likely.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
How does mid season acquisition Jose Castro grade out? Sean Henry?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I like Castro more than probably most. Pay little attention to his awful 2006 hitting line—he went back to switch-hitting this year and it made a huge difference. Castro doesn't have a high ceiling, but he could be a useful backup good-glove middle infielder who can handle both shortstop and second base. His lack of above-average speed is his biggest problem, as he's a light-hitting guy without the speed to make up for it. Henry is going to fight an uphill battle in a system that has plenty of outfielders, especially at the big league level.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
With Francisco and Waring at third and with Frazier likely a third baseman, do you anticipate any of them switching positions eventually?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: If Francisco doesn't stay on top of his weight he could end up at first base, but as a lefty bat, his power could fit there as well. The Reds believe Waring has enough athleticism to stick, but he could also end up as a power corner outfielder, and you could say the same thing for Frazier.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Danny Dorn seemed to hit really well at advanced levels for his first full season. Can he still be a big leaguer if he is relegated to left field? Where does he start 2008?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: There aren't a whole lot of 32nd round picks in the big leagues, but Dorn looks like he'll be one of the exceptions to that rule. His ability to mash righthanders should earn him a spot in the big leagues, but more likely as a backup rather than as a regular. Dorn could start in Double-A or Triple-A depending on how the rest of the Reds outfield situation shakes out—right now the big league logjam hasn't been sorted out.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
How did Rafael Gonzalez miss the top ten after his breakthrough season? He has ranked higher in years when he had a miserable stat line.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The problem for Gonzalez is that he pitched much better, but the stuff isn't what it once was. Gonzalez used to have exceptional stuff, but with little command and questionable work ethic. Give him credit as he got into better shape and actually turned into a team leader, but his fastball that once ranked just a tick below Homer Bailey's is now average at best and his secondary stuff isn't as sharp either. He's a better pitcher, but the stuff needs to bounce back.

 Q:  BT from Florida asks:
How close was Kyle Lotzkar to making the list? What do you see as his future roll and where will he most likely play next year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Lotzkar had a great debut and likely will be in the Top 10 next year. Leaving him off is just a matter of wanting to see a youngster in the GCL prove it over a longer stretch before rushing him into the Top 10. If this had been the list heading into the 2006 season he could have ranked as high as No. 3, but the system is much deeper now than it was then.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
How do you see the glut of middle infielders starting out in 2008? Cozart and Soto playing short and second in Dayton? Justin Turner and Todd Frazier in Sarasota? Valaika playing second in AA with Castro playing short?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Here's my best guess: Waring at 3B with Cozart and Soto at SS and 2B in Dayton (Cozart's the better SS but he has experience at 2B so maybe he plays 2B or maybe they swap back and forth), Francisco at 3B, Frazier at SS and Turner at 2B at Sarasota, and Rosales at third, Jose Castro at SS and Valaika at 2B in Chattanooga. That's a lot of infield prospects to sort out over the next couple of years.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Did Carlos Fisher receive much support to be among the top 10? Also, what type of ceiling does Carlos Guevara have?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Fisher had a great start to the 2007 season but tailed off badly over the second half of the year. His heavy sinker, delivery and tendency to wear down seem to fit better in the bullpen. He could move pretty quickly after a move to the pen, and could be helping the Reds as early as this September.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Why would the Reds leave Carlos Guevara unprotected? Are his numbers decieving?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Guevara puts up great numbers every year, but the concern about him is that he's a one trick pitch guy. You don't see many screwballers these days, but Guevara has succeeded in Double-A, which is usually the level where trick-pitch guys begin to fail. It's a decent risk on the Reds part that he won't be taken in the Rule 5 draft, but there's no reason to not keep moving him up the ladder.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
What position do you see Rosales playing next year? At what level?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'd expect to see him at third base, but if his elbow can't hold up at third base it will be a big hit to his big league chances. He fits much better as a third baseman than he does as a first baseman.

 Q:  Dave from Deerfield, MA asks:
Hey JJ, Yu're the best Reds guy BA has ever had — good job. Any interesting news out of the Reds' instructional league this fall? I know they usually give out some awards, but have heard nothing so far. Thanks!
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Thanks for that Dave. I'll pass on this tidbit out of instructs, Travis Wood looked much better with his velo bouncing back after a season that was pretty much ruined by shoulder problems.

 Q:  John from NYC asks:
Daryl Thompson was just added to the Red's 40 man roster after a very good year between LowAHighA. I know he was once a top ten prospect in the Nationals system - how close was he to the Reds top 10 and what is his ceiling?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Thompson stayed healthy all year, which was important, but the reports I got on his velocity is that it's still got a ways to go to come back to his pre-injury days. He showed some feel for pitching works down in the zone. He wasn't close to the top 10, but if his velo comes back some more next year to go with the ability to confound hitters he could move back up next year.

 Q:  James from Dayton asks:
Did Zack Cozart fall in the 10-20 range? Who is going to play SS at Sarasota with him valaika and Frazier all vying for the job? What is cozarts ceiling? Thanks for the chat
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'd expect to see Cozart back in Dayton. His bat is well behind his glove and it's well behind Valaika and Frazier's, so he could use a little more time to season.

 Q:  John from NYC asks:
Josh Ravin was the #13 prospect in the system last year and honestly had a horrible year in short season. Was he just an overrated prospect or was it just a case of a bad year for a guy who still has a chance to be an impact arm in the big leagues?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: You're right it was a horrible, horrible season, but don't give up on Ravin yet. His stuff was still there, his command just completely disappeared. You want to see him fix the problems, but nothing in his season or his stuff suggests that the problems aren't fixable.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
How close was Valaika to making the list, and what kept him off?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The only reason Valaika isn't on this year's Top 10 is because the depth in the system has gotten better. He profiles as an offensive second baseman whose bat makes him a big leaguer. He dropped out of the Top 10 because the Reds had a good draft that added some potentially higher ceiling prospects to the system.

 Q:  Dave from NW Conn. asks:
Hi JJ. Any of the Reds 2nd tier players, Dorn, Griffen, Turner, Tatum project as major leaguers? Why has Dorn not been mentioned in any of the league top 20's, even as a sleeper. He's hit well. Thanks.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Dorn projects as a useful lefty bat off the bench. Turner's a gamer with a good bat who could make it as a second basemanutility infielder, Tatum could end up being more than that if his bat catches up to his catching ability. Griffin is the one who has the longest path to the big leagues to me, but he's a potentially useful spare part.

 Q:  Dave from NW Conn. asks:
The Reds seem to have some good options ahead for right handed relievers, Watson, Roenicke, McBeth, and Burton in the majors. Who are the best candidates for lefthanders in the pen?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'd put Pedro Viola at the top of the list. The Reds could have a steal there as he's a power lefty arm. Tyler Pelland could also contribute if he adjusts to the move to the pen.

 Q:  TJA from Connecticut asks:
When it's all said and done, who has the better career: Bruce or Hermida?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'd take Bruce because of his better power.

 Q:  TJA from Connecticut asks:
How much of a drop off was there on this list after Cueto at #4?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: There seemed to be three groups of prospects when putting together this year's Reds Top 30 for the Prospect Handbook. Prospects 1-4 are clearly a step above everyone else, then the group from No. 5-15 is really not dramatically different—the No. 15 guy isn't that much worse than the No. 5 guy. And after that, there's a group from No. 16-40 or so that really are all bunched together. I feel pretty confident that someone I leave off of this year's Top 30 (but on the depth chart) will make the big leagues, but I just couldn't tell you which one it will be. If I could I'd put him in the top 30.

 Q:  Ed from NJ asks:
How much did Drew Stubbs turf toe actually affect his production?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He gutted his way through the season, but it did have an impact, and it explains why he struggled to steal bases. I'll be very interested to see how he bounces back after offseason toe surgery.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Could I get your evaluations of Waring and Soto? Did they make the 11-20 range?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Can't give you the full breakdowns, buy the Prospect Handbook, which we're working on right now and should be out before too long, for that, but I will say that both made the Top 30.

 Q:  Ed from NJ asks:
What puts Matt Maloney ahead of guys like Danny Dorn or Travis Wood?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: As I just mentioned in a previous answer there's a pretty big bunch of guys who could have made the top 10. I'd lump Wood into that group, although I think Dorn ranks a little lower. The fact that Maloney has succeeded in Double-A and in a short stint in Triple-A helped his case.

 Q:  bruce fan from texas asks:
Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey, Drew Stubbs, Paul Janish, and several more players from the LoneStar state. Now that all the scout responsible for those picks have left, Johnny Almaraz who also signed Cueto (now with Atlanta), Jimmy Gonzales midwest cross checker(now with Washington), and Brian Wilson who had a fatal Heart attack last spring,won't there presence in Texas surely suffer?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The Reds system has gotten a lot better, but it's also true that a lot of the guys who were responsible for building up the system have moved on, either by their choice (like Johnny Almaraz) or not (like Tim Naehring and Grant Griesser). Only time will tell if the Reds will continue to build on their recent success at developing farm talent, but if they don't then GM Wayne Krivsky will be hurting his own chances at sticking around.

 Q:  Todd from Chattanooga asks:
Thanks for the chat J.J. - what are your thoughts on Adam Rosales? Do you see him getting swtiched back to shortstop or staying at first?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I would expect to see him at third base, which is where he played in the Arizona Fall League.

 Q:  Joe from Chantilly, VA asks:
Phenomenal job with the list. I'm intrigued by former first rounder Aaron Herr, son of former All-Star Tommy Herr. He has put up decent power and average numbers, but it seems there isn't a pitch he won't swing at and. Is there any hope for plate discipline and is there a chance he could bring value as a utility player at the big league value?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: At this point Herr seems more likely to be a Triple-A veteran.

 Q:  Dan from Cincinnati asks:
I think Jack Armstrong was the last home-grown Red starter that won over 10 games in a season. Were Homer Bailey's struggles in the bigs last year something that all young pitchers go through or were they something more than that?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'd expect 10 years from now Bailey's early struggles will be remembered as a brief blip in a very good career. The jump to the big leagues is a big transition. Add in an injury and it's no huge surprise that Bailey had some struggles. He'll be fine.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Dickerson- is he: a) potentially a MLB regular, b) a guy that sticks as a 4th OFer, or c) a guy like Dwayne Wise that bounces between AAA and the Reds for a few years?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'd guess B, although he could end up as Dewayne Wise Jr. Dickerson's better power should give him a somewhat better career, although if he got 550 major league ABs he'd blow away the big league strikeout record.

 Q:  marshall from laguna madre, ca asks:
I noticed that the bullpen in the bigs seems to have struggled this past year. What is the short term outlook?? Is there anybody who can help get out lefties this year...???
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The Reds finally are getting to the point where they can fix their bullpen problems from within instead of going out to find retreads. Jared Burton will likely be the 8th inning guy this year. Marcus McBeth, Jon Coutlangus and Brad Salmon could also work into the mix. Johnny Cueto could end up helping out in the pen as well if there isn't a spot in the rotation and Josh Roenicke and maybe Carlos Fisher aren't that far away.

 Q:  Dan from Cincy asks:
What happened to Sean Watson last year. When he was promoted was he overmatched or did he change his approach? Are the Reds still thinking of him as a late inning guy or a starter?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He seemed to wear down as the season went along, although his stuff bounced back in a late-season move to the bullpen. Since the day the Reds drafted Watson scouts and managers outside the organization have believed that Watson will end up as a reliever, and that still seems to be his long-term future.

 Q:  jamie stapleton from jonesville, va asks:
with chris dickerson being the best athlete and the fastest baserunner in the system, does he ever stand a chance of making the top 10 or is he just doomed to be a great athlete who has no command of the strike zone?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: No chance to make the Top 10, he simply strikes out way too much. After five years in the system Dickerson still needs to make adjustments. At this point the likelihood of him reaching his ultimate ceiling gets less likely by the at-bat, but his defense, speed and power are useful as a backup even if he's never going to hit for average.

 Q:  Trader J from Indy asks:
Johnny Cueto had a great year followed by a strong Fall. I think he is still underrated. What is his ceiling .. #2? How close to Bailey is he?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Cueto may still be underrated around baseball in general. His command, composure and attention to the little parts of pitching are extremely advanced for his age. The best way I can describe him vs. Bailey is this: Cueto is a safer bet than Bailey, but Bailey has a higher likelihood of becoming the Reds version of Josh Beckett.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Will the Reds have better reinforcements in the AAA rotation this year? In other words, will be seeing more Joe Mays, Tom Shearn, Chris Michalak, etc. if a starter goes down?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The Reds Triple-A rotation should definitely be improved over 2007. Matt Maloney is a useful guy to have hanging around Triple-A. Depending on how things shake out, Johnny Cueto could also start the season in Louisville, Richie Gardner still has a chance to become a big league contributor. The Louisville rotation should be more prospect-y than it has been in years.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Better centerfielder - Jay Bruce or Josh Hamilton?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Hamilton. Bruce can play the position, but Hamilton is a physical freak.

 Q:  Bill from Cincy asks:
Now that teams 40 man has been set, do the Reds have any players the may loose. Or better yet who might be the top 5 players taken in the Rule 5 this year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Guevara would be the guy most likely to be taken if a stats-oriented team decided to give him a look because of his KBB ratio. But since we're talking about 2003 high school guys being eligible to be protected the Reds didn't have a lot of worries. They had a horrible draft in 2003 and not one high school draftee from that class is still in the system. Of the 2005 college draftees they can feel pretty confident that second-rounder B.J. Syzmanski, 12th-rounder Cody Strait ane 13th-rounder Drew Anderson are all safe to leave unprotected.

 Q:  Johnathan from North Carolina asks:
Will anyone in the Red's farm system compete for the closer spot next year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Jared Burton still qualifies for the Reds list and I wouldn't be shocked to see him end up with some saves next year. Over the long term Josh Roenicke and Sean Watson are potential closers.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
How does Carlos Fisher project in the big leagues, if at all?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: As a big league setup man who gets lots of ground ball outs with his heavy sinker.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Did the Reds draft any interesting pitchers beyond the 2nd round?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Scott Carroll could be an interesting reliever and Evan Hildenbrandt also could fit into a big league bullpen. Derrick Conatser is a late-round sleeper.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Does Justin Turner look like he will have a career in the big leagues?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Talk to guys in baseball and you get a lot of opinions that Turner will gut his way to the big leagues as much because of his baseball savvy and makeup as his ability to his for average and good glove at second base. I know some stat-inclined guys may scoff at that, but it's a pretty consistent opinion.

 Q:  Brian Daniels from Kennesaw Mountain Landis, Georgia asks:
J.J. Since you are working today (seem to remind you constantly of this), Do you see the Reds moving anyone to allow Bruce to play this year? Also did Danny Dorn make the Top 30?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: How the Reds will fix their outfield logjam is a fascinating question. Dunn is now untradeable after the Reds exercised their option, and Griffey had 10-5 rights to refuse any trade, so that leaves only Hamilton as a movable commodity. The Reds obviously could trade him, but do you really want to deal away a potential all-star? It's hard to see exactly how this will be fixed in the short-term. Considering Griffey and Hamilton's proclivity to spend time on the DL it might end up working itself out, but for now Bruce doesn't have a clear spot.

 Q:  Ken Griffey JR from Desperate to get out of,Cincinnati asks:
Why wont Wayne Krivsky trade me and get some pitching prospects back to add depth to our farm system. What do you think of Krivsky as a GM?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Griffey has 10-5 rights so he's not being traded unless he wants to be traded.

 Q:  Jay from Detroit, MI asks:
Derrik Lutz saved 23 games last summer in High A, Sarasota, highlighted by stringing together a number of consecutive performances yielding no earned runs in July and August. Clearly, he is closer material but where does he fit in to the Reds long-term plans and how fast do you see him ascending in 2008?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Being a minor league closer doesn't necessarily ensure you can be a big league closer. In fact most big league closers were minor league starters. In Lutz' case he has a good arm, but he has to refine his secondary stuff and his command.

 Q:  Mike from Lynchburg asks:
Where do you see the Reds Big Four in the BA Top 100? Can Cueto crack the top 30?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: All four will be Top 100 guys I feel pretty confident in saying. In fact, I'd expect we'll see all four in the top 50.

 Q:  Mike from Boston asks:
Can you explain the nuance between Johnny Cueto's control and command in your section on him?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Control is the ability to throw strikes. Command is the ability to hit spots. A guy with control won't walk a guy on a 3-2 fastball. A guy with command will hit the lower inner half of the plate with the fastball for the strikeout.

 Q:  Max from FL asks:
How would you rate Mesoraco? Is he a premier C? where would he rank in comparison to guys like Clement?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: It's hard to compare a high school catcher coming out of the GCL to a former college catcher in Triple-A. We'll know a lot more about Mesoraco after he gets some more at-bats and innings behind the plate but the tools are there. It's hard to throw him into the ranks of the top minor league catchers right now when he's just had some rough at-bats in the GCL.

 Q:  Ed from NJ asks:
How does Kyle from Middletown get 50 questions answered and I get zero? Mix it up JJ, mix it up.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'm trying to mix it up, but Kyle asked a lot of good questions early. Don't worry, I'm working through as many questions as I can get to, even if I have a turkey I need to go brine.

 Q:  Vic from Columbus asks:
How close was Neftali Soto to cracking the top 10? Do the Reds see him sticking at SS in the future? Also, what do you see as Mesoraco's ceiling? Perhaps something along the lines of Russell Martin? Thanks.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Soto is not too far out of the Top 10. No, I don't think he'll stick at SS, but his bat should be enough for a move to 3B or RF.

 Q:  Dave from CT asks:
What's going on with Paul Janish — does he still have a shot after his 08 season?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Janish definitely had a season to forget. His glove is still impressive, but the concern with him was always his bat. I expect he'll hit better in 2008, but his long-term status definitely took some dings in 2007.

 Q:  Deywane from asks:
Is Travis Wood, the forgotten man and is he still a solid prospect?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Not forgotten, but he has to show that his stuff can bounce back after shoulder problems. He has a pretty skinny frame so durability is a concern.

 Q:  Jake from Carlisle asks:
Do you envision Juan Francisco cutting down on his K's in the future? His OBP was very low this year. Also, are Frazier, Cozart, and Waring high-strikeout, or contact guys?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Francisco better cut down the Ks or he'll be easy meat against more advanced hitters. He was young for the league, so you can expect to see some improvement there, although he'll always be a high K, lots of HR guy. Frazier and Waring are both power guys who will strikeout a good bit but should make up for it in home runs. Cozart needs to cut down his swing somewhat as he's more of a guy who needs to hit for average.

 Q:  Jake from Carlisle asks:
Why did Devin Mesoraco have such a poor debut this year? What should he do to improve his game?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Mesoraco banged up one of his thumbs catching and the other sliding into second base. That was part of the problem and the adjustment to the sweltering humidity of the GCL didn't help either. The big leagues are filled with guys who stunk in the Gulf Coast League so don't worry about it too much yet.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
How good is Chris Heisey?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: One more Kyle question, as it's about a nice sleeper. Heisey doesn't do anything great but he does everything pretty well. If everything breaks right he could be a Chris Denorfia type.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Who gets your vote as the biggest sleeper in the system?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Chris Heisey and Brandon Menchaca are two guys who won't make the Top 30 but are interesting. Denis Phipps is a deep, deep sleeper. He's a guy who likely won't turn into anything but the tools are such that if he figures things out he could be a big league regular with excellent power.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Have the Reds given up on Szymanski and Strait? Any chance either one has a breakout year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Strait has a better chance the Syzmanski, although Strait's lost year (he got hit in the head with a pitch early in the season and struggled to recover) makes it tougher for him to climb the ladder.

 Q:  Kaz from Edison asks:
Assuming he is healthy and has a solid spring, does Bailey start the year in Cincinnati? Do you still see Hughes as having more long-term upside than Bailey?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'd expect to see Homer in Cincinnati all year. Picking between Hughes and Bailey is still like flipping a coin, either way it comes up you're right.

 Q:  Carnac from Los Angeles asks:
Only one of Bruce and J.Upton will have a hall of fame career? Who will it be?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Both.

 Q:  ronaldine from memphis asks:
What is the deal with Phillipe-Alexander Valiquette? great stuff, great name, great season at billings. where will he start next year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The scouting report on Valiquette isn't much different than it was the day he signed with the Reds. Because he's now heading into his fifth season in the system it's hard to give him the same projection as before. He hasn't picked up much of a breaking ball which means he now projects best as a power lefty out of the pen. I would guess Valiquette will get another chance at Dayton.

 Q:  Evan from Georgia asks:
Will BJ Szymanski ever rebound and be a solid major leaguer?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The tools are still there, but at this point it seems like the strikeouts have swallowed up his chance at a big league career.

 Q:  Jeff Sullivan from Belchertown MA asks:
What happened to Chris Gruler? Is he still playing?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Gruler retired, which added him to the list of late 1990s and early 2000s Reds pitching prospects who saw their careers ruined by injuries.

 Q:  Tim from Portland, OR asks:
Do the Reds feel Votto has more to prove at AAA or was Hatteberg's option too cheap to decline? Where do you see Votto on this scale: solid regular, above-average regular and occasional all-star, frequent all-star? Thanks!
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Hatteberg's option was cheap enough that it would be foolish to have declined it. He could be a useful trade piece at midseason if the Reds are out of it. Votto's average and power could make him an above-average regular, although he's probably not a frequent all-star.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
Is it a good or bad sign that the Reds first round pick is only 6th on the list?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: A good sign. In past years Mesoraco and Frazier would have ranked higher, but having four big league ready top quality prospects moves everyone else down the list.

 Q:  Jake from Carlisle, OH asks:
So J.J., which Reds prospects do you envision being on Dayton's team next year? What are their playoff chances?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Take a look at that Billings club and you should see a good bit of the Dayton lineup. Hard to project playoffs in November, but Brandon Waring should replace Juan Francisco's power production nicely.

 Q:  Evan from Georgia asks:
Rank who you like the most Bruce, Vitters, and LaPorta
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'd rank 'em in the order you did.

 Q:  Nick from New York asks:
Do you think that Cueto and Lincecum is a good comparison?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Both are undersized guys with big stuff, but Lincecum's stuff is bigger than Cueto's.

 Q:  Crlos R. from Miami Florida asks:
What have you heard on 9th rounder Alexis Oliveras? Is he in the top 30?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He's not going to sniff the top 30 after putting up a .493 OPS in the GCL. He has good tools and a chance to make everyone forget a brutal 2007 season but he's got some work to do to make the 2008 Top 30.

 Q:  Guy from Nowhere, USA asks:
How about Michael Griffin...he seems like a great clubhouse guy who makes the team better....where did he fit in the rankings
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Guys in the FSL really liked Griffin's defense at 3B, but with the system being much deeper than it has been in past years it's going to be tough for him to make the top 30.

 Q:  Virgil Dahl from Waterloo, Iowa asks:
interesting chat... thanks for taking my question. Better career, Hamilton or Bruce??
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Interesting question. Gotta go with Bruce. The guy in the big leagues at age 21 will always have the advantage.

 Q:  Jake from Carlisle asks:
Please answer a question I sent you! I'll pay you! Anything!
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I've already answered three of your questions. Send the check to ......

 Q:  Johnathan from NC asks:
Do you think Jay Bruce will eventually have a 50hr season?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: No. But then in the non-steroid aided era we're going into 50 home runs is going to be pretty rare again.

Moderator: Thanks for all the questions. Now go get ready to eat turkey. Because everyone will be in a turkey-induced coma on Friday our next chat won't be until Monday with the Brewers Top 10 Prospects.